On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I witnessed a "revolution," though thankfully not the kind that culminates in a coup d'état. What I saw was the so-called "micro-mill revolution" -- a new way in which coffee is processed and sold, that could help transform the way specialty coffee is traded, to the betterment of all involved.
The concept of sustainability is not just a feel-good marketing concept; it is both a moral and functional imperative. And so, to make the financial case for paying farmers more is simple: if we don't do it now, there won't be coffee to sell later. To make the humanitarian case for it is just as simple: coffee farmers deserve better.
While not exactly a certification, like Fair Trade or the Rainforest Alliance, direct trade is really more of a loose concept: remove as many of the middlemen as possible and make sure the most marginalized and impoverished people in the coffee chain, the coffee farmers themselves, are given a bigger piece of the pie.
As the city of Melbourne wakes up, trendy cafés of all shapes and sizes prepare for a busy day. Whether it's a flat white, a long black, or a short mac -- specialty coffee is a necessity for most Melbournians. In this city, where almost nothing comes cheap, what's unique is the experience you can have for less than a five-dollar bill.
In the current age of going green and sustainability permeating every facet of our daily routine, the coffee industry is one that has taken the mission to heart, incorporating the concept into every aspect of the supply chain, from seed to cup. But for all of its efforts, one fact that stubbornly remains is that by nature coffee is a fundamentally unsustainable product: environmentally, socially, and economically.